For employers and HR professionals, finding ways to boost employee engagement and retention is essential to the long-term success of your organization. After all, higher employee engagement and retention means fewer resources spent on hiring and onboarding efforts.
The benefits of having an engaged workforce don’t end there. With a higher retention rate, you can also preserve institutional knowledge, keep your organization positively growing, and sustain employee morale.
A key tactic to maintaining motivated and happier employees is by creating professional growth opportunities. According to a LinkedIn survey, 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. With that many employees vying for more professional investment from their employers, you have the chance to make a difference.
One of the most impactful career development opportunities that your organization can offer employees is the ability to join professional associations. Whether you run a small organization or a major enterprise, encouraging your employees to become association members can foster a more empowered and satisfied workforce that will persist for years to come.
Let’s explore six benefits of promoting employee association membership.
1. Higher employee engagement
Among the most popular reasons that people join associations is to find a community of like-minded individuals in their industry. This is the perfect opportunity for your employees to network while advancing their skills and exploring current industry events.
By encouraging employees to join an association, your organization can impact employee engagement in several ways, such as:
- Increased Passion: Being part of an association can boost employees’ motivation to excel in their roles. They’ll seek to demonstrate their newfound expertise and knowledge, leading to increased engagement and productivity at work. In other words, you’ll renew their passion for their work and promote enriching experiences.
- Community and Belonging: Joining an association can create a sense of belonging. Employees who feel connected to a professional community may experience higher levels of engagement because they’ll have a support network with shared interests outside of work.
- Skill Development: As we’ll explore later, many associations offer educational resources, workshops, and conferences that help employees develop new skills. These professional development opportunities can increase engagement by promoting a sense of growth and career advancement.
Association membership can go a long way in motivating employees. You can further support your employees by paying their membership dues. This way, you’ll ensure that they’re able to make the most of these learning opportunities, have a productive member experience, and see how invested you are in their development.
An example of association membership boosting engagement
Now, what does this look like in practice? Imagine you work at a local newspaper organization that has hired young journalists. You’ll want to provide these new hires with a positive experience that’ll inspire them to stay engaged in journalism, hone their abilities, and work at your organization.
To foster their journalism careers, motivate these hires to join a professional organization like the Society of Professional Journalists which connects, educates, and supports journalists of all levels.
These associations provide members with free resources, mentorships, and access to industry conferences. By joining an organization like this, your young journalists can develop the skills they need to succeed, feel a greater sense of belonging within the industry, and get more meaning out of their work.
2. More skilled employees
As association members, your employees will have access to development opportunities that may let them earn continuing education credits and certifications related to their careers. These credits and certifications will help your employees become more effective in their roles and further their careers.
Let’s take a look at the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). This association is the only national organization that represents the interests of licensed, professional engineers of all practice areas. NSPE provides its over 26,000 members with free courses, members-only newsletters, advocacy, and networking opportunities to promote their professional advancement and build a sense of community.
Furthermore, NSPE’s PE Institute offers live events, webinars, licensure test preparation, and other resources to support the ongoing success of its members. The PE Institute covers a variety of topics including diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), networking strategies, and professional engineering ethics.
There are countless programs provided by associations that your employees can benefit from, including:
- Training courses
Furthermore, associations equipped with a learning management system can offer extensive learning materials, exams, and certificates for a streamlined continuing education experience.
After your employees participate in these programs, they’ll bring back insights, tips, and best practices for your organization to adopt. This lets your employees improve their skills, advance their careers, and improve their work all while staying at your organization.
3. Networking opportunities
Becoming part of an active community is a major reason why people join associations. At an association, your employees can meet with fellow members to make long-lasting personal and professional connections.
Associations organize different networking opportunities that can accommodate your employee’s schedule and preferences, such as:
- Online forums
- Happy hours
- Virtual meetups
- Social media groups
- Member directories
Not only are building these connections great for the growth of your employees, but they can also lead to business opportunities for your company and strengthen your ties with other industry leaders.
Imagine that you employ wedding and event photographers. To foster your employees’ careers, you decide to sponsor your photographers’ memberships for an event planning association. At this association, your employees begin to build relationships with wedding and event planners.
Soon, these casual relationships turn into professional ones as your employees share their business cards and information about your company. Once these wedding and event professionals need an experienced photographer, they’re more than likely to call your employees – with whom they’ve built a relationship.
Another benefit of having your employees join associations is the member directories. If the association’s directory is available to the public, then everyone can use this database to find a service provider, leading to more business for your organization.
4. Stronger teams
With all the networking and learning opportunities that your employees will have at an association, they’ll become even stronger contributors to your organization. That means increased productivity, better results over time, and a positive company culture.
To bring teams even closer together, organizations can encourage employees to share their learning experiences from their association participation with one another. This could be as simple as implementing this knowledge into daily operations or holding in-office workshops. Now, these teachings can ripple throughout your organization and strengthen it.
To promote these insights, you can ask every employee whose membership you sponsor to create brief presentations about what they learned. This way, your team can share what they found most valuable and demonstrate how to apply these practices to their roles.
5. Greater employee retention
According to Double the Donation’s employee engagement guide, employees are more likely to feel engaged when they see a clear path forward within your organization. In fact, 86% of employees said that they would change jobs if they were offered more professional development opportunities elsewhere.
By encouraging employees to join professional organizations or sponsoring their membership, you’ll show them that you want to create a positive experience for them as they advance in their careers. Employees will see that they don’t need to go to another organization to grow professionally—they can continue advancing their skills and strengths at your organization.
Employees will also feel more fulfilled and willing to continue working at your organization when they can incorporate what they’ve learned from their membership into their everyday work. For example, you can ask employees to share what they’ve learned during educational lunch and learn meetings or provide them with new responsibilities based on the skills they’ve learned.
6. Insights into the latest trends
By joining professional associations, employees will be able to stay up to date on the latest trends, technology, and best practices in the industry. They’ll get access to trade publications, exclusive conferences, and email newsletters to deepen their knowledge.
This lets your employees stay on top of current events and advancements in your industry. With this insider knowledge, your organization can leverage this information to stay ahead of the competition and delight clients.
Picture this: You work at a dental office and your employees join a national dentistry association. By attending the association’s annual conference, your employees learn new and effective practices for customer service and scheduling. By bringing this information back to your office, your team can implement these tactics and boost customer satisfaction.
Maximize employees’ potential with association memberships
By encouraging your employees to join relevant associations and sponsoring their memberships, you can bolster their professional development. While your employees grow their skills and network, they’ll bring current trends, industry best practices, and professional connections back to your organization. Talk about a win-win for everyone.
If you’re ready to get your employees set up with an association, be sure to find them all the information they’ll need like the association’s contact information and steps for signing up. Once your employees become active members, they’ll enjoy countless learning opportunities, get more value out of their work, and demonstrate their insights at your organization.